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The Science of Munchies: Why Does Cannabis Stimulate Your Appetite?

February 25, 2015

A new study from the brilliant minds at Yale University has explained one of the most curious phenomena from cannabis: the science of munchies. Why do some cannabis consumers experience a heightened sense of appetite after partaking in some of their favorite strains? The Yale study dove into this eternal question and has come up with a scientific answer.

Cannabinoid receptors have a coordinated dance with specific neurons in the brain known as pro-opiomelancortin (or POMC neurons), which are located in the hypothalamus. These neurons control appetite stimulation (as well as other base instincts, such as sexual arousal and alertness – this explains so much). The POMC neurons are also responsible for sending a chemical signal to the brain to stop eating when the person is full.

Scientists have long made the connection between the stimulation of cannabinoid receptors and an increase in appetite. However, this study made the correlation that when cannabinoids are introduced to the system, a receptor inside the POMC neuron is activated, causing a switch from signaling that the person is full to making endorphins, a neurotransmitter that increases appetite.

Tamas Horvath, the lead researcher (who has also authored numerous scientific studies on cannabinoids and eating behavior, as well as endocannabinoids and their role in body fat regulation), likened the chemical effect to switching your foot from a gentle tap of the brakes to rapidly accelerating instead. It fools your brain’s central feeding system and suddenly you feel ravenous, even if you've just eaten.

This explains much of the standard(ly amazing) chemical reactions we often experience with the introduction of cannabis – euphoria, arousal, hunger. So now you know, and, much like our friends at GI Joe would proclaim, knowing is half the battle. (Although they'd rather you turn towards apples and other healthy snacks instead of candy bars when it's munchies time. Those Joes, always looking out for us.)

Learn more about cannabis and eating by catching up on these fun facts:

3 Fun Facts About Cannabis and Eating

  • Darius A Stokes

    Anything that produces energy itself burns it to. Through our bodies photosynis process like a plant consuming carbon dioxide and making oxygen coming from your ears. So you have to always eat first before you smoke always. Basically what you burns while your smoking because of energy transfer. it speeds up your metabolism.

    • Ron Coletta

      Stick to making bead necklaces and leave the physiology to us son.

      • Cheryl

        What a rude and condescending remark to make….how deep does your knowledge about this subject go, I wonder.

        • Frantic

          My thoughts were similar. “Keyboard warriors “‘as they say , never ceases to amaze me as to how crude or downright rotten, some stoop

    • Frantic

      I do . As I’ve noticed for me it works. I’ve told my bff same thing in order to maintain my healthy diet I always save my little “treat” for AFTER I’ve eaten my salad and other veggies for the day and get nice and lit on some cherry thunder f or GG#4 cheers 🌋😎🌈🎸

  • Jackson Shredder

    That explains how I never want sugary things unless I smoke some weed. Been doing it 36 years now and I have some what been able to control it to an extent. I do notice though that INDICA seems to make me hungrier than the SATIVA I normally smoke. At least now when I buy it I know what I’m getting. Before I would always say I don’t want sleeper weed when buying on the black market never knowing what the differences were until a few years ago when it became legal at least on the state level.